Catfood Records announces an October 19 release date for “Blues & Angels”, the new album from singer/songwriter/keyboardist Sandy Carroll. Produced by Sandy’s Grammy-winning husband Jim Gaines, “Blues & Angels” features special guest appearances from Blues Music Award winning singer Johnny Rawls, guitarists Rocky Athas and Bernard Allison, as well as many members of the famed Muscle Shoals studio crew, including bassist David Hood and keyboardist Clayton Ivy.
“Blues & Angels” is her fourth album for Catfood Records and comes after Carroll’s previous albums focused on her Americana and country music connections. Her 2016 project, “Last Southern Belle,” hit #1 on the roots charts for Contemporary Country Song for six weeks straight and was #1 on the Hot Indie 100 Charts.
“Returning to the blues is my comfort zone,” Sandy Carroll says about the new album. “This album was one of the hardest to write because I really wanted to say something about what’s going on around us, while keeping true to the genre of the music’s tradition.”
“Blues is not just about a three o’clock in the morning heartbreak or a cheating man … it’s also about giving worth to the loss of a loved one, the state of one’s world, depression, mortality, healing the hurt … I think we experience these to know the true joy of gratitude as in dancing like a child, knowing that LOVE truly is a wonderful thing,” continues Carroll. “Blues music is universal and lets us know we are never alone in times of trouble or wonderment.”
On “Blues & Angels”, Sandy Carroll touches on a wide assortment of universal feelings and truths. “Some of the songs are written for healing,” she admits. ‘Wrapped In An Angel’ and ‘Headin’ Home’ are two of those; some are songs of awareness like ‘Road Angels’ and ‘Movin’ On.’ ‘Slings and Arrows’ and ‘Blues All For Myself’ are about recognizing the dark and either being prepared with a lifelong armor or letting it run its course. Some of the songs are joyous: ‘Somebody Gotta’ Dance’ and ‘Love Is A Wonderful Thing;’ some are tongue-in-cheek songs about atonement: ‘Soak Me In The Spirit’ and the timely ‘Mama Don’t Like It,’ that speaks to the empowerment of women and a sassy blues warning to anyone ignoring the ‘me, too’ movement. “One, and only one, is a true love song: ‘Mississippi Me’ is for my husband and its delicate simplicity grants me peace,” states Carroll.
For the songs on her new recording, Carroll collaborated again with Songwriter Hall of Fame member Mark Narmore, as well as William Lee Ellis and some new writers, including Stephanie C. Brown (“Burning Bridges” – Garth Brooks). From the musician side, Hall of Fame guitarist Will MacFarlane, plus special guests Bernard Allison and Rocky Athas put the blues licks and tones in their proper place.
“I was honored to write and duet with Johnny Rawls,” she declares. “Once again we recorded at Bessie Blues but also took it on the road for a cut at East Avalon Studios in Muscle Shoals and home to Memphis for a day’s work at American Studios.” The A-Team rhythm section is Steve Potts, Dave Smith, Rick Steff and Steve Selvidge from Memphis. The A-Team from Muscle Shoals: David Hood, Clayton Ivy and Justin Holder laid it down for a glorious cut. Drummer Derrick Young worked in our studio while we were experimenting and did so well he ended up on two cuts. And I couldn’t be luckier than to have singers Reba Russell, Daunielle Hill, Barbara Blue, Nancy Apple, Lorina McMinn, Trinecia Butler, Rachel Robinson and Trey Hardin give the songs the texture and power they deserve.”
Sandy Carroll returned to her Memphis roots in 1983 and spent a year headlining at a local club on historic Beale Street, following several years of performing on the road. Writing and recording the singles, ‘If You Got It’ and ‘Memphis In May’ in 1984, Sandy partnered with Jim Dickinson, NARAS Memphis chapter’s seven-time producer of the year. ‘Memphis In May’ became a regional hit and for several years, the unofficial theme song for the Memphis In May annual festivities. Sandy performed at the Memphis In May Festival with the Memphis Horns (with special guest Rufus Thomas) and also at the first Beale Street Music Festival.
Upon her return to Memphis in 1989, the legendary Albert King recorded Sandy’s ‘If You Got It’ which appeared on his final studio album, “Red House.” Sandy then starting writing songs for her own full-length debut album, “Southern Woman,” released in 1993. Following the release, Sandy was invited on a month-long tour of the United Kingdom. Sandy continued promoting “Southern Woman” by performing at various festivals in the South, including Arts in the Park, Eureka Springs Blues Festival and the Southern Heritage Festival. She maintained a heavy performing schedule at all of Beale Street’s most prestigious clubs, and one of Sandy’s more unique gigs was writing the Memphis Mad Dog football team theme song, ‘Mad Dog Boogie,’ recorded by Southern-fried soul and blues musician Preston Shannon.
In 1997, the great Luther Allison recorded Sandy’s ‘Just As I Am’ and ‘It’s A Blues Thing’ on his final album, “Reckless,” which was nominated for a Grammy. That same year, Sandy recorded and released “Memphis Rain,” which was honored by the Memphis and Shelby County Film and Music Commission. She went on to receive a nomination by NARAS’ Memphis chapter for Songwriter of the Year.
Beginning the new millennium with concerts, club and festival performances, Sandy appeared at Muscle Shoals Songwriters, Beale St. Caravan National Radio Show at B.B. Kings, W.C. Handy Festival and the (invitation only) International Songwriters Festival in Orange Beach, Alabama, where she opened for songwriting legends Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham. In 2001, Sandy was filmed by Memphis’ PBS station WKNO, along with great songwriters Keith Sykes, Teenie Hodges, Nancy Apple, Duane Jarvis and Delta Joe Sanders as part of the “In Their Own Voices” concert.
In 2007, Sandy released “Rhythm Of The Rivers,” with five previously-unpublished songs and a reprise of ‘Bound For Glory.’ In 2008, Sandy was awarded her own brass note on Memphis’ historic Beale Street, and in 2010 the note was formally presented and enshrined in front of the Hard Rock Café.
Sandy Carroll also co-wrote cuts on Catfood Records labelmates Johnny Rawls’ “Soul Survivor,” Barbara Carr’s “Keep The Fire Burning,” James Armstrong’s “Blues At The Border” and Daunielle Hill’s self-titled album. Sandy was one of the first inductees into her hometown’s Music Hall of Fame along with famous Memphis DJ, Dewey Phillips, in 2013 and she was also named a “Memphis Music Emissary” in 2015 in recognition of her contributions to Memphis music.
Sandy three previous releases on Catfood Records – “Last Southern Belle,” (2016) “Unnaturally Blonde” (2013) and “Just As I Am” (2011) – all received international critical acclaim and substantial radio airplay on blues and Americana/country radio stations. In 2012, the single ‘Romeo And Juliet,’ from “Just As I Am,” stayed on the New Country Indie Chart for three months and reached #5. Also, ‘Good To Be Home’ from “Unnaturally Blonde” made it to #3 on the Country Indie Chart and stayed on the chart for 14 weeks.